Japanese authorities are using a blue liquid that hardens into a gel that is then peeled off surfaces, taking microscopic particles of contaminants, including radioactive pollutants, with it to clean up the contamination caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The "blue goo", or DeconGel, was discovered by accident in 2009 at the Hawaiian venture capital and technology incubator firm, Skai Ventures. A researcher spilled a bit of solution from an experiment onto the floor. When it was cleaned up the next morning, the solution came off the floor taking everything foreign with it.
Since then, the substance has been been successfully used to scour everything from shipyards to meth labs and Hungarian villages that were inundated with toxic alkali sludge during an industrial accident. It has been found to be very effective on concrete and metal.
The company donated 100 five-gallon buckets of the blue liquid to the Japanese cleanup efforts,
Up until now, radiation has been scrubbed from surfaces, essentially with soap and water. This mobilizes the dangerous waste, increasing the chances that it might escape into water supplies or the soil and increasing the hazard to the workers. The byproduct is contaminated water that is heavy and difficult to contain.
DeconGel captures the contaminants, then hardens around them, neutralizing the threat. Workers can then remove and store the contaminants safely, without worrying about pollutants escaping into the air or seeping into surrounding soil.
The product sells for about $40 a litre which will clean between about 5 and 10 square metres.